My brother and his new wife are holding back my 14 year old niece from having a normal teenage experience. His wife has been in our family for about 5 years now and only in the last year after having a child of her own has she become incredibly strict and punitive. She was raised in a very religious household and homeschooled, but never came off as a crazy, reactionary conservative until recently. I think she has some mental health issues, but that is another thing altogether.
I have been living 1000 miles away from home for the last 5 months, and we have been writing letters back and forth regularly. I decided to write her to keep in contact and to set myself up as a confidant. I want to be someone who she can vent to and ask for advice from. I have really been trying to empower her because I remember how awful middle school was and how hard high school was at times. I always make a point of being positive and tucking little life lessons into my letters, like: ?how to measure self worth, how to identify tofix relationships and expel toxic people, how to say no and not being sorry for making her own decisions, acceptance of people who are different from her, and most importantly, that I will be here to ask question when she is finally ready to date and have sex.
Today my mom informed me that my brother's wife had gone through my niece's room and read all the letters I had sent her. Suddenly she wants to send my niece to a private christian school and not allow me to write to her anymore. My mom thinks that my brother is just going along with it for the sake of their marriage and that his wife is the perpetrator of all the overreaction. Me being pissed about my brother not standing up for his daughter is a-whole-nother story.
My niece is already never allowed onto a computer, does not have a phone or tablet of her own, and she had the opportunity to play basketball this winter taken away from her. It is easy to say "in my day, we didn't have cell phones in middle school", but that is not the point. The point is that these things are a part of the normal teenage experience at this point. What damage is he doing to her social development by not allowing her access to the internet or phone conversations with her friends and family? As for the basketball, it is her favorite sport and she is a spectacular player. What if she could have gotten a scholarship to college under basketball and now maybe that opportunity has been sacked?
It is like they would rather she learn life's lessons the hard way than have a helpful aunt to give her clues as to how to take on those confusing issues as they come. It is so ass-backwards, and we were not?raised like that. Why do they want so badly to hold her back? Why do they want so badly for her to be a quiet, obedient insecure girl? They are doing her no favors here.
The worst part is that I cannot say anything without really screwing up the family dynamic. Family is really important to me. It was all I could do (from 1000 miles away) to be a steady background source of reassurance in her life... and now I may not even be able to do that.
I think this is mostly venting, but any advice would be accepted.?
It's great that you want to be there for your niece and it really does seem that she is being held back by her parents. Have you talked to your brother about this before? Maybe you could have a serious talk with him about how you want to be a part of your niece's life, her social development and how so many restrictions can have consequences. She's still quite young so this is an important time for her to build up her confidence, experience new things and discover herself. Just try getting through your brother first and be respectful about his wife too. Your niece is lucky to have an aunt like you. I truly hope this all works out. All the best!
Unfortunately some families are just like this.? I have 3 younger cousins who have a crazy religious mother and is treating her daughters in a very similar fashion.? Sometimes though, screwing up the family dynamic is a good thing.? My mother and her sister (the crazy aunt) rarely talk anymore because my mom got fed up with her bullshit and told her off, after she claimed that I wanted to just turn her daughters into "sluts".? Said she was going to turn her children into robots.? She actually has let up a little since then.? I went from hardly ever having any contact with them, to now...I often get to chat on the phone or email/chat with the 2 older girls.? She is still crazy and tried to shelter them as much as possible, but like you, I am there for them when they really need to talk.
I would contact your brother and really grill him on why he just let's his wife treat them like that.? Keep a calm head about it, and maybe he will see reason.